Palm springs on the Rio Grande: Insight into Archaic forager plant use from phytoliths recovered from a Late Holocene alluvial section in northern New Mexico Journal Article uri icon



  • In this study we present new evidence from phytolith studies for the presence ofSabal sp. (likelyminor), an allochthonous plant, around Tesuque Creek in northern New Mexico during the early part of the Late Holocene, in the vicinity of known Late Archaic hunter-gatherer communities using the area at that time. We analyzed phytoliths from sediments taken from an alluvial section on the east side of Tesuque Creek dating to c. 3600–2400 cal. BP. The phytoliths demonstrated a change over time from a succulent dominated landscape to a shrubby one, with the later introduction of high densities of palmetto phytoliths associated with marshy deposits and adjacent burn levels. This evidence suggests a more diverse resource landscape available to local hunter-gatherer groups than previously understood, and may have implications for the early management of microenvironments, plant communities. This evidence demonstrates the value of phytolith analysis from alluvial sections for understanding human land and plant use practices over time. Our study provides a new perspective on what resources and land use areas were available for Archaic peoples inhabiting the area, and how they may have experimented with managing lesser known types of wild plant resources before the establishment of the triad of crops from Mesoamerica. This opens up new avenues for understanding the landscapes, land use practices, and environmental impacts of pre-agricultural communities in the northern Rio Grande and in other semi-arid environments worldwide.

publication date

  • October 12, 2021

has restriction

  • gold

Date in CU Experts

  • January 31, 2022 12:38 PM

Full Author List

  • Damick A; Rosen A; Ortman S

author count

  • 3

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Additional Document Info

start page

  • e0258231

end page

  • e0258231


  • 16


  • 10